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Extensions: Wicked, Jersey, Mousetrap, 39 Steps

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Several West End productions – musicals Wicked and Jersey Boys and plays The 39 Steps and Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap - have recently announced extensions to their booking periods.

Wicked has added a further six months to its schedule at the Apollo Victoria, where it’s now taking bookings through to 30 October 2010. Now in its fourth year, the Broadway import has taken more than £80 million at the box office and, bucking the recession, producers expect 2009 to be the show’s highest grossing year to date, with takings so far 7% up on last year.

Wicked tells the “untold story” of the Witches of Oz - popular blonde Glinda, aka the Good Witch of the North, and her spin-victim friend Elphaba – who were both immortalised in the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz. The musical has a book by Winnie Holtzman, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. It’s directed by Joe Mantello.

Opened in 2003 on Broadway, Wicked received its West End premiere on 27 September 2006 (previews from 6 September). In the 2007 Whatsonstage.com Awards, covering the 2006 theatre year, it won four top awards, including Best New Musical. The current London company is led by Alexia Khadime (who plays the green-skinned Elphaba), Dianne Pilkington (“good witch” Glinda), Harriet Thorpe (Madame Morrible), Oliver Tompsett (Fiyero) and Sam Kelly (The Wizard).

This year’s four-time Whatsonstage.com Award winner Jersey Boys, which tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, has added five months to its booking period at the Prince Edward Theatre. The UK premiere production opened on 18 March 2008 (previews from 28 February) and is now taking bookings through to 24 October 2010.

The musical follows four boys on their journey from the wrong side of the tracks in the state of New Jersey to international success as pop music sensation The Four Seasons. The band wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they were 30.

Amongst their many hits included in the show are “Sherry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, “Working My Way Back to You” and “Who Loves You”. The musical has been written by Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman and uses the original music written by band member Bob Gaudio.

Following a four month try-out run in La Jolla, California, Jersey Boys opened in November 2005 at Broadway’s August Wilson Theater, where it’s still running. In 2006 it won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The West End production reunites the Broadway creative team, led by director Des McAnuff. Choreography is by Sergio Trujillo and design by Klara Zieglerova.

Jersey Boys won four 2009 Whatsonstage.com Awards: Best New Musical, Best Set Designer, Best Actor in a Musical for Ryan Molloy (as Frankie Valli) and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for Stephen Ashfield (Bob Gaudio). It was also named Best New Musical at this year’s Oliviers.

The Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps has announced another eight-month extension at the Criterion Theatre, where it opened on 20 September 2006 (previews from 14 September) and is now booking through to 23 October 2010. In Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of the John Buchan whodunit, inspired by the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film and seen at West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Tricycle Theatre prior to the West End, four actors play “150 roles” between them to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home. Maria Aitken directs.

Finally, at the St Martin's Theatre, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest-running play, has announced a new five-month booking period, taking it up to 10 April 2010. The classic whodunit - which celebrated its 50th West End anniversary, with HM The Queen in attendance, on 25 November 2002 - has become a Theatreland institution. The show originally opened next door at the Ambassadors and transferred to St Martin’s, after 20 years in its original home, in 1974. The Mousetrap is directed by David Turner.


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